Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Book Review: The Last Christian On Earth

Book review: "The Last Christian on Earth - Uncover the Enemy's Plot to Undermine the Church," Ventura, CA: Gospel Light, 2010. 254 pages.

Os Guinness earned a DPhil from Oxford University , has been a freelance reporter for BBC, and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution  and a guest scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies.

I had the opportunity to hear Os Guinness teach a short time ago at the RZIM Summer Institute. I was impressed by his ability to communicate and his obvious understanding of history and contemporary culture. His grasp on the forces shaping our culture is obvious after reading "The Last Christian on Earth."

This book was originally published in 1983 under the title "The Gravedigger File: Papers on the Subversion of the Modern Church." It has been updated and re-released. The gravedigger thesis, the theme around which the story is written is this: "The Christian faith contributed decisively to the rise of the modern world, but it has been undermined decisively by the modern world it helped to create. The Christian faith has become its own gravedigger."

Os Guinness
Born in China, educated in Europe and living and working in the U.S. has given Os Guinness a unique perspective from which to analyze the church. In the style of John le Carré, and reminiscent of Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters," Guinness has used the literary device of writing memoranda from one spy to another about how to undermine the church. It is a thought-provoking work that should be read by Christian leaders and influencers.

It certainly gives much food for thought on where the church has gone wrong and how to correct those errors. It speaks of the different reactions to modern culture and where they have failed: from the trap of isolationism to the compromise of liberalism and points in between. The question he asks is pertinent for every Christian leader: "Can we regain the full integrity of faith in Christ while fully and properly engaged in the advanced modern world?"

The answer is, obviously, "yes," but the questions remain. "How will we?" and "will we?" Guinness recommends that "the old three-step approach of 'discern, assess, and engage' is still the better way." So this book is an invitation to take a serious look at the culture in light of the Gospel - and this can only begin with a renewed commitment to the core truths of the Gospel. Thus, Guinness ends the book with a printing of "An Evangelical Manifesto," written in 2008 by a number of Evangelical scholars including Charles Colson. It is a call to do exactly what Guinness' book calls us to do. I recommend this book for any serious Christian concerned about how best to engage the culture.     

Related Article:
What Do You Believe And Why Does It Matter?
What's Wrong With the Church?
Book Review: "The Me I Want To Be"
Book Review: "The Harbinger"
Book Review: "Why Jesus?"

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